from the grab-some-popcorn dept.
TheVerge is reporting the Supreme Court has declined to hear the long-running Google, Inc. v. Oracle America, Inc. case concerning copyright over the Java APIs. This is an important case, because it sets precedent if publicly documented software APIs can be copyrighted. This has relevance throughout the FOSS community, from Wine (reimplementing the Windows API) to Octave (reimplementing the MATLAB API).
A brief history of events: The original decision, handed down in 2012 in district court, found strongly against Oracle that APIs were not protected by copyright. Oracle appealed, and the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court decision, finding the "structure, sequence and organization" of an API was copyrightable.
Google petitioned SCOTUS to hear the case. The Court seemed unsure, and requested the input of the Solicitor General (Donald Verrilli, appointed by Barack Obama). Mr. Verrilli replied with a brief instructing SCOTUS not to hear the case. Today, SCOTUS officially declined to hear arguments.
By declining to hear arguments SCOTUS defers to the appeals court ruling: APIs are copyrightable. Google may still have a defense under the Fair Use doctrine, but now all other users of APIs will have to prove Fair Use if a suit is brought. There is no option to overturn this precedent save a new case working through the courts. Soylentils, what will the effects of this decision be? Have you used or reverse-engineered code from public APIs in your own work?